Watch CBS News

"Dark Horse" author: You don't have to choose between success and being happy

Unlikely winners who redefine success
"Dark Horse": Todd Rose on unlikely winners who redefine success 04:48

Harvard researcher Todd Rose is working to change how we think about success, by tracking the unlikely paths of individuals who triumph against the odds. In the book, "Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment," co-written by Rose and Ogi Ogas, the authors include stories of the likes of Jennie McCormick, who became a respected astronomer without a college degree, and sound engineer Susan Rogers, who recorded with Prince before becoming a college professor.


"For most of us, when we think about success, it's pretty narrow, and we end up thinking about things like wealth, status, power. And we sort of think that you have to choose between that and being happy – and dark horses show us that you actually don't have to choose," Rose said Thursday on "CBS This Morning."

So what's the secret of a dark horse? "Prioritizing personal fulfillment over more conventional notions of success," Rose said. By prioritizing fulfillment, it doesn't mean they shirk responsibilities, Rose added.

"They always were willing to sacrifice for fulfillment," he said. 

Rose is a bit of a dark horse himself. He dropped out of college, had two children by the age of 20 and was on welfare to take care of them. But he received valuable advice from his father that "changed everything."

"He said, if I wanted something better, I had to figure out what really motivated me, and I had to stay close to that. And that advice changed my path completely," Rose said. "It led me to get a GED, go to college, and eventually end up at Harvard where I get to study what makes people tick."

To figure out what motivates you, Rose offered some advice:

"Think about the things that you enjoy doing and ask yourself why. So if you enjoy football, is it the competition, is it being outdoors, is it the camaraderie that comes with team sports? The more you think about those things, the more you know what really moves you. And if you ask yourself that question often enough, it will reveal your broader motives and that will put you on a path to fulfillment," Rose said.

He also encouraged parents to do the same for their children. "But if you think about us as parents, we actually don't ask our kids that very often. We spend a lot of time telling them what should matter and very little time helping them figure it out for themselves," Rose said.

"They need to figure out what really matters to them and what motivates them, and we can help them by asking," Rose said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.